Written by Beau DeCourcy
Turn them all off and go away from them. Just for a day, maybe a weekend. Phones, TV, computers, and especially devices that are all three. Now here’s the hard part: forget about them completely and make your experience disappear from any electronic ‘reality’. Take no pictures and post no updates about the experience. Exist in immediacy.
Step two: be alone, with your thoughts. Today that is rare. It’s too easy to be connected to others and nearly impossible not to be. So try hard, real hard, and get off the grid. Why? Because it’s probably been too long since you have, and that means something. It probably means you’re far more dependent on E-interaction than you think. Social media can have powerful implications on stress levels and anxiety. How do you feel when you misplace your phone?
I want to be clear that technology has had profound positive outcomes on society and will continue to do so, but it has also progressed so fast, it seems society has yet to metabolize its effects. While smartphones are effective tools, many have learned to rely on the social stimulus they provide. Some even feel a sense of entitlement to this connection. In example, locations that do not have “service” tend to be viewed as social deserts. People avoid these areas because they do not want to lose access to the ether. I’m beginning to revere these dead zones. In fact, I believe they are incredibly beneficial and, unfortunately, they are quickly becoming extinct.
Few of us are capable of feeling comfortable being “out of service”. I must admit, I feel awkward without my IPhone in my pocket. Often times a mild panic seems to arise when I notice the square object is not against my thigh. Recently I felt this anxiety when I unknowingly left my phone at home to take a short trip to the store. As soon as I became aware of its absence, my thoughts flooded with ideas of how horrible it would be if I could not find it. This anxiety made me slightly ashamed and it brought me to the realization that an ‘E-fast’ may be in order.
I can remember camping for weeks at a time in my childhood when the only contact we had to the outside world was a long boat ride to the camp office. On a couple of these remote camping trips, word was received of the death of a friend and a relative by a stranger in a boat or a family member hiking in to inform us. It was of course, horrible news, but knowing sooner would not have changed the outcome. If you gave me the option to have the technology of contact then, as we do now, I would turn it down without hesitation.
What I learned growing up camping and traveling without constant contact, was that there is a solace in being inaccessible. Often we feel we can control our lives better by knowing what is going on everywhere else. But the truth is that we can control very little, and knowing too much often causes unnecessary stress and complexity. Reading and watching the happenings of the world with our noses skimming the screens of our smart phones, robs us of the totality of our presence. News feeds, text messages and Internet radio often act a distractions from the important and real parts of our lives. Remove these distractions as often as possible and learn to be fully involved with friends and family. Buzzes, vibrations and beeps should not take priority over face-to-face conversation.
In closing, I am going to ask and even suggest you enter a social media desert and dead zone, and disconnect. Take an E-fast for a day or two and learn to relax into the reality of natural proximity and immediate reality. You owe it to yourself, your friends and your family.
What is your experience with disconnecting? Do you feel you could benefit from an E-fast?